How to build a six-figure side hustle

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Tens of millions of Americans have adopted a side hustle to bring in extra cash, but some have found a way to supercharge it. One San Francisco mom says she made $115,000 in a year and a half. A tech worker in the South Bay made $16,000 in a year. Both say that perhaps nowhere is a side hustle more necessary than in the Bay Area, and now they are sharing their secrets.

The Side Hustle: Poshmark

For Savannah Sarkisian-Borrozo, shopping for six hours a day, six days a week, is no trouble at all. The full-time mom can get lost in rows of racks at thrift stores and we caught up with her in her element at Mission Thrift in San Francisco. Her iPhone is a natural extension of her body, her "closet" on the reselling app Poshmark has 1,000 items listed at any given time. She ships out 20-30 items a day.

"What do I love about it? I don't know, it just gives me life! I can't explain it," said Sarkisian-Borrozo.

How did she become a Poshmark power-seller? She left a good job with the city, choosing to become a mom every night and day instead. At first, selling through Poshmark was just a way to clear her closet of items she'd outgrown.

"I gained almost 100 pounds when I had my twins, and I lost it, but my body wasn't the same," said Sarkisian-Borrozo. "My foot grew a full size, my jeans grew three sizes. I just wanted to rid myself of a little bit... and it just transformed into something else completely."

Now, she scours stores that sell clothing for cheap, takes them home, spot cleans and stages them on a dressform, on a hardwood floor or against a faux-white fur background, showing the possibilities of each outfit with the intent to re-sell for as much profit as possible. She says this is important, and makes a big difference in making a sale.

"I love the hunt, so I really love finding special pieces mixed in with what other people consider junk or garbage," said Sarkisian-Borrozo. "Even if it may not be my style, I can appreciate that someone else would love it, and style it in a way that maybe looks different than if it were just hanging on the rack."

At Mission Thrift she moved at a blistering pace through the aisles, finally emerging with two denim jackets, three vintage dresses and a pair of cut off shorts, plus an iron-on Wonder Woman patch for an extra $4. She plans to make a tidy $280 profit on this group of items.

So how can you make her kind of coin? There are her secrets.

Look for popular brands that sell fast. She recommends:

  • Madewell
  • Theory
  • Vince
  • Equipment
  • Nike
  • Adidas

What's hot right now:

  • Unique Vintage pieces
  • Elaborate, beautiful beading
  • Overalls (she says she can't keep them in stock for more than a couple of days)
  • Denim
  • Shearling jackets

Fair warning: there is one item she says she can't seem to sell:

  • Skirts

Pay attention to peak times for posting, updating and making a sale:

  • 8 to 9 a.m.
  • 12 to 1 p.m.
  • Late at night

Poshmark takes a cut of the profit based on the size of the sale. For sales under $15, the app will take $2.95. For sales that are more than $15, Poshmark takes a 20 percent commission. The buyer pays for shipping.

What she loves most about this side hustle is the flexibility. Being a mother is still her first job, she drops off her kids, and then will source before picking them up again. After she puts them to bed, the work of posting, answering messages and accepting offers starts again and doesn't really stop. She readily admits that this side hustle requires commitment.

"I'm glued to my phone, so I'll wake up in the middle of the night and use the restroom, and I'll check my notifications and take offers," said Sarkisian-Borrozo.

But the extra income means that she and her husband are able to afford to live in San Francisco, as well as send their kids to private school and even take the occasional vacation. She says it also represents a chance for her to demonstrate a strong work ethic to her kids early-on.

"They had a little performance at school where they said what their moms do, and my daughter said, 'My mom sells things nobody wants!' And I was like, 'Molls, don't say that!' But she said, 'Well you do, you sell cool things!' It's in their blood," said Sarkisian-Borrozo.

You can find her closet on Poshmark under the username @3bugmama.

The Side Hustle: Door Dash

A full time tech worker, Mark Ferguson says he applied his analytical mind and love of spreadsheets to make the most out of his side hustle. For him, delivering food through the app Door Dash was born out of necessity.

"In the Bay Area, it's very expensive to live... I have kids that are going to want to go to college one day," said Ferguson. "I quickly found out that there are various steps and tricks that you can use to maximize your success."

By day, he's a senior manager of Sales Operations at Actiontec Electronics, based in Sunnyvale. For two and a half years now he's been "dashing" on night and weekends, for a total of about 20 hours a week. He says this side hustle is what you make of it.

"For a lot of people in the Bay, this is a way to earn an extra $40 a week, or this is a way to earn an extra $300 a week," said Ferguson.

He says that he's fully focused on his main job while he's at work, but he spends hours that would normally be used for decompressing, exercising or socializing to turn extra profit. He can make up to $200 a day.
"There's an appeal to turning 'down time' into extra cash. If I can go out for another two hours and make another $40, then I can go out to dinner, or I'm closer to a plane ticket for my next trip. The fact that the money is out there, and all you have to do is sign in and go earn it, is appealing."

He charted out the best places, days and events during which to deliver, and is sharing it freely on He gave us a breakdown of his biggest tips:

When to dash:

  • Dinnertime and weekends (skip breakfast)
  • Especially Sunday
  • Target big events on TV, including shows like Game of Thrones, the Oscars and other large awards shows. Also football and basketball games can be lucrative times.

Areas to target:

  • Palo Alto
  • Mountain View
  • Sunnyvale
  • San Francisco (if you can find parking)

What car to drive:

  • He says his small Prius is ideal for this work, it takes less gas (important, since you pay for it yourself) and finding parking is easier.

Work during this weather and this one day a year:

  • When it rains outside, it also rains money as people order in
  • New Year's Day

He says the biggest key is to always be busy, since you only make money per delivery, but also do not necessarily accept every delivery request that comes your way-be strategic, considering how far the restaurant is, if it has a reputation for being slow (Ferguson generally avoids pizza places) and if the order total is just too small to justify taking you out of the running for another larger order that may be just around the corner.

Ferguson says delivering for Door Dash is "a job, but it's still enjoyable," igniting a competitive spirit. He also describes it as a way for him to provide his daughters with a great life in the increasingly-expensive Bay Area.

"I hope they think their dad is a hard worker because ultimately this is to create a better environment for them as they grow up," said Ferguson.

You can see his full breakdown of suggestions, plus the detailed numbers to support them here.
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